When it comes to sex, it is not just the men who should be responsible for keeping a condom. Even though male condoms are the most effective measure for safe sex but the responsibility should be divided between both the partners. Most women in India believe that oral pills are the only option that they can adopt for contraception. But that’s a myth. Just when you thought you knew all about birth control pills, you will be surprised to know about a few more contraceptive measures that women can adopt for safe intercourse. These options are safe and convenient. The only problem is that most women do not know about these contraceptive methods.
Read this article to know in detail about 9 alternative contraception options for women.
1. Female condoms
The female condom targets the urban woman who is informed about sexual health issues and wants to take charge of her health. Its size may seem intimidating -- the condom is kept in place by the inner ring at the cervix and an outer ring at the opening of the vagina. It is made of a material called nitrile, which allows body heat transfer, making sex more pleasurable. It is also tougher and drastically reduces risk of breakage. You can use them in combination with a spermicide, but never with a male condom. These are a relatively new entrant, with just two brands -- Velvet (Rs 100 for a pack of three) and Confidom (Rs 250 for a pack of two)
This is not very popular in India yet, and requires the intervention of a medical practitioner to insert it into the vagina. It is a small, round, rubber dome with a firm, flexible rim that covers the woman's cervix, and is used with a spermicide. Diaphragms come in a range of sizes. However, since it has to be held in place by the vagina, you will need to be refitted if you gain or lose weight, if you have a pelvic surgery and in the event of a birth or urinary tract infection. It may slip out of place, so be sure to check its placement before and after sex. If the diaphragm is dislodged during sex, spermicide should be reapplied. It protects against STDs and reduces risk of cervical cancer.
Spermicides are chemical barriers in the form of foams, creams, gels or suppositories, to be inserted into the vagina a few minutes before sex. They have a 70 to 90 percent effectiveness that works best when coupled with other barrier methods like male condoms or diaphragms. They contain a chemical that kills sperm or makes them inactive. Frequent use may irritate vaginal tissue and increase the risk of STDs. The most popular spermicide available in the Indian market is a suppository called Today.
4. Cervical cap
This is similar to the Diaphragm in structure, except that it is slightly smaller in size. This also functions similarly like Diaphragm and comes in different sizes for better fitting. However, care should be practiced when using it. Preferably use it after a suggestion from a doctor, with proper spermicides. Both the Diaphragm and Cervical cap are supposed to be inserted, at least 8-10 hours before intercourse.
5. Intra-uterine devices (IUDs)
An IUD is a copper coil fitted in the woman's womb that does not allow the sperm to meet the egg. Popularly called Copper T, it is a good alternative to hormone pills. The chemicals in the device change the uterine lining to prevent implantation of eggs. It can be effective for three to 10 years, depending on the kind of device used. The body may resent the foreign body initially, causing some pain. However, a wrongly inserted IUD could cause pelvic inflammation or puncture the uterus. Maintain good hygiene and medical care if you're using one. They are cost-effective and cost as little as Rs 400 to Rs 1,000.
6. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)
As the name suggests, they should be taken only in times of emergency and cannot replace OCPs. Even though no chronic side-effects are known from prolonged use of ECPs, they are best avoided. They have a high failure rate and can lead to irregular periods and menstruation-related problems.
The patch is worn on the lower abdomen, buttocks, outer arm, or upper body. It releases the hormones progestin and estrogens into the bloodstream to stop the ovaries from releasing eggs in most women. It also thickens the cervical mucus, which keeps the sperm from joining with the egg. You put on a new patch once a week for three weeks, take it out for the week that you have your period, and then put in a new one.
The birth control patch is very effective. It works best when it is always placed on the skin on time. That keeps the correct level of hormone in a woman's body. These do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
8. Mini pill
We all know that birth control pill has both the hormones progestin and estrogen, but the mini pill has only progestin that should be taken only when prescribed by a doctor. Lacking the estrogen, mini pills are free from the some possible side-effects of normal birth control pills such as increased risks of deep venous thrombosis (DVT), heart disease or sickle-cell disease. It is also recommended for women who are breastfeeding because the mini-pill does not affect milk production.
9. Birth control shot
A progestin shot is a progestin injection, which prevents the sperm from getting fertilized. As effective as the regular contraceptive pill, this prevention shot is known to be 99.7 per cent effective in avoiding pregnancies.
Disclaimer: Detailed information regarding the above mentioned contraceptive methods should be obtained from the doctor before plunging into self experimentation. Anything that prevents pregnancy artificially or interferes with the body’s routine fertilization process has to be referred by a health or medical practitioner. This is applicable to not just the IUD’s, but all of the above mentioned birth control measures.